November 24, 2021
If You Care About the Climate, Pay Attention to Koch Cash
By Sarah Burke
The Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University receives millions in Koch and ExxonMobil funding, using academic credibility to undermine environmental protections.
By Jake Lowe
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced new methane restrictions at the COP26 conference, which will require a 30 percent cut in methane emissions by 2030 by more than 100 countries. The move underscores the importance of climate policy regulations, especially in the face of discouraging prospects of national action from Congress.
But Biden will find it hard to avoid the reach of dark money in his pivot to the regulatory sphere, especially from the largest private company in the United States, Koch Industries. Since 2005, Charles Koch oversaw grants of almost half a billion dollars to hundreds of colleges across the country. One university research center—with millions in Koch and ExxonMobil funding—is especially poised to combat this shift: the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center. The Regulatory Studies Center leverages George Washington University’s reputation to inject academic credibility into journal articles and public comments that favor deregulation.
For 11 years, the RSC has successfully undermined federal environmental regulations, cultivated a hub of deregulatory soft power, and seen its members rise to influential regulatory positions. As a GWU student who has been researching the RSC for the better part of a year, I am here to tell you that it is so much more than just a campus issue. If you have a stake in US climate policy, pay attention to the RSC. If my research and subsequent report make anything clear, it’s that the center has been allowed to quietly disrupt regulations on behalf of the fossil fuel industry for too long.